I had been on a A320 Etihad Regional Business Class last year on my flight to Beirut. It was an old plane, a rowdy crowd in Business Class and just not a good flight to look back at.
I was hoping this time it would be better for my flight to Male. Indeed the A320 was a bit newer but still featured the dreaded recliner seats that resemble domestic first (or Turkish Airlines Business Class for their routes under 6 hours).
The recline is about 30 degrees and the seats are wide. Luckily I had no immediate seat neighbor which gave me lots of space in 1A. The rest of the Business Class was full though.
I fell asleep right after takeoff and skipped breakfast but it was served later for me – just about an hour before landing. Since I do not eat eggs I tried the Arabic choice of a warm pastry filled with dates. It wasn’t bad but too sweet.
Etihad has equipped some planes with in flight GSM which connects your phone to the ‘pico cell tower’ in the plane. This worked after some fiddling with my iPhone rather well. You can make calls but you pay dearly in roaming charges.
The WiFi would not work during the flight (we may have been out of coverage) or this plane just wasn’t equipped with it.
The best part of this flight was approaching the Maldives from above. The weather was clear and the islands under us as shiny as I have ever seen them.
I wish Etihad would have equipped their A320 like Qatar with a full lie-flat seat and Premium food and service. The product Etihad delivers is just a notch above Domestic First – maybe that is what the product the market wants?